How to Cite a Book in MLA Style

Let’s say you’re using the words or ideas from a book and you need to cite them. The citation style that you use will depend on the discipline of your course. Check the Citation Guides page on the Augustana Library website to determine which style you should use. For example, if you were taking an English course, you would use MLA.

Let’s look at how to cite a book in MLA style. You’ll need to make an in-text citation to put within the text of your paper, right after the quotation or idea. The in-text citation will tell your reader exactly where you found a specific piece of information.

Let’s say you used the book Dying and Death in Canada. An in-text citation should be placed in parentheses, and it starts with the author’s last name. This book has two authors, so the in-text citation needs to include both last names, Northcott and Wilson. The next piece is the page number or page range of the information within the work. For example, if you used a quotation from page 206, the citation would read, Northcott and Wilson 206.

Or, you can mention the author’s name in your sentence, and then only give the page number in parentheses. The second component in MLA-style citation is the works cited list entry, which gives more detailed information about the book. You should be able to find this information inside the book on the title page or on the verso, which is the detailed page just inside the cover. Just like the in-text citation, the works cited list entry begins with the author’s last name, but you also need to include the first name or initials as they appear in the book. In this case, Northcott, Herbert C. Since this book has two authors, you need to include the second author’s name, but this time, it starts with the first name. Donna M. Wilson.

The next piece of information is the title of the work, Dying and Death in Canada. Book titles are always italicized in MLA style. Since you used the third edition of the book, that information comes next. After that, you’ll need to give the publisher of the book, followed by the date when it was published. In this case, U of Toronto P is an abbreviation for University of Toronto Press. Whenever the publisher is a university press, just use those abbreviations: U and P. And that’s it!

With your citation, you’re telling the reader who wrote the work, what it’s called, and where and when it was published, so that they can find it if they want to. Some citations will be more complex. For example, if you used an ebook rather than a physical book, you would also need to include its “container,” or the online database where you found the ebook, such as Google Books, and include the link to it. Or, you may need to cite a chapter in an edited book, where each chapter is written by a different author. In this case, you would need to include information about the chapter, and about the book as a whole. For more examples and tips, check out the Citation Style QuickGuide on the Augustana Library website.

And if you have any questions, ask for help at the library.